Tom Butt
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  Lost Tales of Point Molate - The King of Pot
May 9, 2022

Figure 1 - Bruce Perlowin, the "King of Pot"

Figure 1 - In 1979, Brett Douglas was a twenty-eight-year-old US Marine Corps veteran working as a commercial tuna fisherman in California. That year, a young man named Bruce Perlowin came looking for professional seamen and found a few, including the author. The fishermen he recruited became a crew that played an integral part in smuggling more than 250 tons of marijuana that FBI agents credited to the "Perlowin Conspiracy."

Immediately adjacent to Point Molate along the bayshore is Red Rock Marina, originally the site of a ferry terminal that ended service when the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge opened in 1956. Subsequently, a series of owners had grand plans for the “marina” that never materialized. It was the location for scenes starring Clint Eastwood in Magnum Force in 1973, using three aircraft carriers headed for the scrapyard. (See

Figure 2 - WWII aircraft carriers at Red Rock Marina pier in 1973

Figure 2 - Still very popular in the north bay was the workhorse Richmond-San Rafael Ferry. Three of the fleet, 240 foot steel hulled sisters built in 1924 – EL PASO, KLAMATH and RUSSIAN RIVER (ex-NEW ORLEANS), were casualties of the Bay and Golden Gate Bridges. The older SIERRA NEVADA (1913) was added after the war. All boats boosted the auto carrying capacity greatly as post-war traffic soared. Nevertheless it seemed to be every family’s favorite outing. The 20 minute crossing featured a sit-down restaurant on the upper deck, where meals could be cooked to order…quickly!

But the most interesting use of Red Rock Marina was by Bruce Perlowin, the “King of Pot” who ran the world’s largest cannabis smuggling operation out of Red Rock Marina for four years. Between 1979 and 1983, Perlowin assembled a fleet of 94 vessels with 200 employees, raking in over $100 million in profit. He was eventually busted in 1993. See

As a former convicted cannabis felon, he may be eligible for Richmond’s Cannabis Equity Program.